The Foro Boca concert hall opened to the public December 1, 2017 in Boca del Río, Veracruz, Mexico, with a concert by the Boca del Rio Philharmonic Orchestra featuring acclaimed violinist Joshua Bell. Designed by Rojkind Arquitectos, the remarkable building is the central piece of a city in transformation. Iker Gil of MAS Studio and Julie Michiels of Perkins + Will spoke with architect Michel Rojkind to discuss the main aspects of the building. The Architect’s Newspaper: Can you talk about how you became involved in Foro Boca and how it related to the larger urban challenges in Boca del Río? Michel Rojkind: Miguel Ángel Yunes Márquez, the then-mayor of Boca del Río, started the Boca del Río Philharmonic Orchestra in 2014, and that has since become the heart of the cultural life in the city. The mayor asked us to design a home for the orchestra, and at the time there were three possible sites. The chosen one was located in a deteriorated area of Boca del Río where the Jamapa River meets the Gulf of Mexico. We decided then to think about the building as part of a larger urban regeneration project that also could tie to a three-mile boulevard that the mayor had already started to work on to improve the pedestrian experience along the waterfront. How does Foro Boca connect to its immediate context? One of the first key aspects was to turn the nearby breakwater into a pedestrian space. Also, the building entrance, besides being protected from the strong north winds, is connected to a series of public spaces. As the mayor had already chosen granite for the boulevard, we included it in our project so that the boulevard would go right into the building. Our aim was to make sure that the public spaces were considered as important as the building, giving back to the community by extending our plazas toward the beach, the breakwater, and the city. The building is raw, powerful, and stripped of superfluous elements. Can you talk about its overall composition and materiality? We wanted to use a material that was able to withstand and respond to the harsh conditions of the place, so we chose concrete with a texture running in different directions. We were interested in the way it would develop a patina over time, similar to the nearby rocks in the breakwater. Initially, the project started as a big box that we broke down into smaller programs to give it the proper scale toward the beach, the pier, and the city. As you move around Foro Boca, your perception of the volumes’ scales changes. And it was important for us to make a building that had no front and back. For instance, the area where the trucks load and unload the instruments becomes an exterior plaza. It is about creating overlapping uses rather than hiding them. The interior of the building also challenges our perception of scale, with an interesting sequence of compression and release. As you enter the building under a compressed space defined by a cantilevered volume that is 7.5 feet tall, you begin to understand the spatial organization around the main concert hall. The double- and triple-height spaces with skylights are quite dramatic, as you are coming from the dark compressed entrance in contrast to the exterior light and then it opens up to these spaces with light washing the walls. And there is a sense of fluidity in the spaces. You see people going up the stairs, moving through the mezzanines, and entering the concert hall through different access points. It was important for us to translate the continuous movement that is present in music or in the nearby waves. Foro Boca continues with your studio’s philosophy of providing added value to each project, envisioning new opportunities beyond the original scope of the project. Can you describe how added value manifests in this specific case? Besides the main program of housing the orchestra, we wanted to design a space that could accommodate multiple activities at the same time and host diverse cultural manifestations, not just concerts. After the opening concert, Foro Boca hosted White Canvas, an audiovisual piece by Cocolab, and a few days later the first edition of the National Book Fair in Boca del Río. Now that there is a building that can house all these activities, there will be more and more opportunities to bring interesting artistic expressions. The important thing is to maintain the quality of the culture that is inside. It is interesting to consider Foro Boca in relationship to your Cineteca Nacional project. Both public buildings commissioned by the government, they have similar ambitions as civic anchors beyond their specific programs. Can you talk about the relationship between both projects? When I started to work with the mayor on Foro Boca I was a bit skeptical because I had a really hard time with Cineteca Nacional. We were being criticized for a building that had opened to the public unfinished. But the process in this case was very different and with more time for design. Also, the mayor of Boca del Río is very passionate about art in general, and the orchestra in particular, so I knew we could work in a different way. To me, the most important part of the Cineteca project is the exterior space, the places where people gather and where unexpected things occur. For that reason, in Foro Boca, we fought to include the exterior plazas as a key part of the project. Each project creates different experiences, but both have exterior spaces that are very successful. When film director Peter Greenaway visited Cineteca Nacional, he pointed out that the gardens were his favorite area, as they were the spaces where the quotidian happens. Foro Boca is a project that synthesizes the ideas and lessons we learned from Cineteca Nacional. It is a building that is distilled to very few elements, creating a powerful experience that you feel is part of the site.
Posts tagged with "Michel Rojkind":
Rojkind Arquitectos designs jagged waterfront concert hall to boost Mexico’s reputation as a music and cultural hub
Capitalizing on the recent rise of Boca del Rio's cultural profile, construction has begun on a new waterfront concert hall in Veracruz, Mexico. The Foro Boca will house the Boca del Rio Philharmonic Orchestra, formed last year to incite interest in the region as a cultural and musical center, and kickstart a masterplan to regenerate the local architecture. Positioned as an antidote to the area’s rising crime and pollution levels of the last 20 years, the concert hall by Mexico City–based Rojkind Arquitectos includes an 850-seat concert hall, rehearsal space, music library, and offices. The striking concrete edifice of jagged volumes fronts the breakwater between the mouth of the Jamapa river and the Gulf of Mexico, its geometry referencing the adjacent jetty. The tallest of these volumes houses the concert hall. Visitors enter the building through a triple-height lobby, which leads to the music halls and the library. The 50,000 square foot building will also have a 150-seat chamber music room to host monthly chamber music concerts, while an after-school choral and musical program for low-income children will also be held. On the third floor is a terrace with sweeping views of the ocean and river. Foro Boca’s location converges with Avenue Zamora, which is lined with local restaurants, and is being eyed as a potential catalyst for local gentrification. “The building appropriates the timeless expression of the concrete cubes formed by ripraps in the breakwater, assimilating them as its origin and reinterpreting them in a building made of apparent concrete, forming various areas of volume that contain the concert hall,” said Rojkind Arquitectos founding partner, Michel Rojkind.
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A double-layer steel lattice transforms a former residence into a Japanese eatery’s new home in Mexico CityWhen Mexico City-based architect Michel Rojkind was chosen as one of the Architectural League’s Emerging Voices lecturers in 2010, he already had a lot of work under his belt. His firm, Rojkind Arquitectos, had recently completed Nestlé’s factory and chocolate museum in Querétaro and was beginning work on a 54-story mixed-use tower on Mexico City’s chic Paseo Reforma. But in spite of big-name projects, the architect who started out as a rock-and-roll drummer maintained a connection to the fabrication of his projects, collaborating with local workers and using simple components instead of employing more complicated techniques. “I joke with my Swiss architect friends that I wouldn’t know how to work in Switzerland, where everything is perfect,” he told AN in a May 2010 interview. “You have to figure out ways to make things happen here, and it inspires me.” A testament to that inspiration, Rojkind’s new Tori-Tori restaurant employs a double-layer steel lattice to transform an existing residential structure in Mexico City’s rapidly changing Polanco neighborhood. Rojkind's firm worked with industrial designer Héctor Ersawe to plan the new 6,800-square-foot location for Tori-Tori, a popular Japanese eatery and one of many restaurants that moved or expanded into the recently rezoned Polanco area. Though some establishments have opted to simply hang out a shingle advertising their new presence, Rojkind's team wanted to create an entirely new environment that would tie the restaurant's interior to the outdoors. The new steel facade was digitally designed to mimic the vegetation that covers the project's retaining walls. Outside floor-to-ceiling glass, the grid structure wraps the south and west elevations of the restaurant. It extends from the ground to the roof in a pattern designed to give diners a view of outdoor patios while casting shadows on the interiors depending on the time of day. The facade's self-supporting layers are made with CNC-cut, thin-gauge steel plates that were welded in place on site and hand-finished by a team of nearly 40 local metalworkers. Slightly offsetting the layers and painting them two tones of gray add to the illusion of movement, and, lest diners forget they are not just enjoying a meal in a neighbor's lavish courtyard, blue LEDs positioned between interior and exterior layers add a touch of electricity to the air.